Ball Walls at Blossom Hill Elementary
Los Gatos, CA
I recently finished painting artwork on six ball walls at Blossom Hill Elementary that illustrate key concepts from the school’s social and emotional learning curriculum (Project Cornerstone). The school site is on Cherry Blossom Road, and their mascot is a bee, so we went with garden themes in all six murals. I picked the easiest concepts from the curriculum so that even the youngest students could absorb the messages. The campus playground facilities are also used by the community during the afternoons and weekends, so the artwork and themes needed to appeal to all ages.
Be kind, be curious, be helpful: These are great reminders for every age whether on the playground, at work, or in the kitchen. Here are six artful ideas to sharpen your social/emotional skills before the Thanksgiving arena:
Bee Helpful: This mural features cute bees buzzing in and around the cherry blossoms. Imagine little Suzy thinking to herself, “Tommy is so slow! I am not going to gather any more honey today because it’s not fair if I’m doing more work.”
It doesn’t really work, does it? It certainly doesn’t sound like much honey fun will come of it.
I had so much fun painting with Sam on this project! I met Sam Johnsen when she coordinated a Project Cornerstone mural project at Bubb Elementary in 2017. She spent many years as a Project Cornerstone volunteer and her ideas elevated each design.
Bee a Bucket Filler: This one is about noticing the positive qualities and efforts of others, and telling them! It feels good all around. There is another aspect of being a bucket filler that is often overlooked: we can fill our own buckets, too. Speak to yourself kindly, nourish yourself with good food, music, rest, and ask for a hug when you need one. Bucket filling is not a chore- it is buckets of fun.
I have a sign hanging over my desk that says, “Attitudes are Skills.” I learned this idea from Seth Godin and it inspires me to remember that I choose how I interpret and react to events. Bee Joyful – not to cover over or ignore the bad feelings, but you might notice there is also a wee bit of joy in you, despite imperfect circumstances and ostensibly mixed emotions around those circumstances. Give that wee bit of joy you discover the sunshine of your attention and watch it bloom.
Bee Playful: If I treat a problem like it is really serious business, will it be resolved sooner or more effectively? Difficult challenges abound these days. for sure. I have a bad habit of trying to scare away problems with my mean face. It never seems to work! However, I can easily imagine how humor and play could be as effective –and more sustainable– in catalyzing a solution. This is a habit I want to create in 2022! Yes, that is a bee hiding behind a poppy plant.
Bee Curious: Take it from me, being a know-it-all is exhausting. I am a lot more relaxed when I realize I have very, very few things I am truly certain about. In this mural, the bee is exploring under the surface of the strawberry plant, and the worm is meeting him halfway. The ladybug is just the translator. I’m certain of it.
Bee Kind We spend so much time showing off how smart we are (competent, sexy, funny… oh go ON!) we forget that the only thing someone else will remember about you is how you made them feel. Be Kind.
I hope these colorful public service announcements will inspire your Thanksgiving week spent with family and friends. We all need a little bit more hugs and forgiveness than usual, collectively we’ve had a rough go of things. You might even be able to imagine that you have had it better than most and decide to be the one who shares your extra honey with someone else.